Big goals, small steps, and #MeToo

Last summer, Soteria Solutions opened its doors just as Harvey Weinstein was turning himself into the authorities. As we hired staff and released our new high school curriculum, Christine Blasey Ford was testifying in front of the Senate, sparking a national debate about what it means to believe a survivor. When we held our first board meeting last December, Baby Its Cold outside was being heard with new and somewhat sinister undertones. You can’t watch an old episode of classic sitcom without questioning the dialogue and the sexist ideas. And you can’t think about interactions in the workplace without recognizing the power of civility and respect — and the damage that results when they are absent. As we celebrate our first anniversary this month, the world is seen in a new light.

Turning an idea for cultural change into a successful non-profit is hard work, no matter how good the research, or how positive the results. Soteria Solutions was created to provide new approaches to prevent sexual and interpersonal violence and harassment — to create an environment of civility and respect in places where people work and learn. As founders, we had big ideas and bigger goals but becoming operational required many small steps. Finding space, recruiting a board, drafting financial and travel policies, finding staff and contractors. The list goes on.

As Soteria Solutions celebrates one year in operation, focusing on both the big goals and the small, sometimes mundane tasks needed to achieve them, I can’t help but think of the #metoo timeline and how the world transformed as Soteria evolved. #metoo is now a powerful global movement but, like Soteria’s launch, it was built with individual actions and small steps. An individual who stood up to an authority figure or an incident that couldn’t be forgotten, which was finally brought into the light.

Soteria Solutions is not just part of the cultural shift; we are helping to lead it. Bringing in the Bystander® launched a cultural dialogue on sexual assault more than a decade ago, through our research partners at UNH. It provided a way for campus communities to increase awareness and bust through the barriers to intervention. Middle and high schoolers are now part of the bystander intervention movement. And workplaces are moving beyond compliance to follow suit and activate their best and most plentiful resource in the fight to end harassment — their people.

At Soteria Solutions, we promote and celebrate the advancements we see in the world for all genders and all people. We work every day to ensure these changes are lasting. From high schoolers to employees, newly trained and activated bystanders go into the world, spreading the idea of intervention before, during and after hostile actions.

We have so much more to do, but we know our efforts are working. So, we’re checking tasks off the to-do list to achieve the big goals, while always remembering the individuals who started this movement and lead us all forward.